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August 31 2011 by Kristin at The Kitchen Sink in Pasta,Recipe » 8 comments

bucatini with cherry tomatoes, pancetta & basil

The best recipes are born in an instant.  Or, at least that’s how they emerge in my world—in a split second, when hunger and inspiration collide, a product of the exact moment, the day, my mood, the weather, the season.  It’s what happened with this one, and this one, and this one, and this one, and this one.  And it’s what happened with this very satisfying, very quick, very of-the-season recipe: bucatini with cherry tomatoes, pancetta and basil.  This one was the result of a grey day—one that followed a brilliant string of blindingly sunny days; a long work day; a few nights of less-than-stellar sleep.  I wanted a warm bowl of something hearty and nourishing, but something that would not waste the precious, waning days of summer.

bucatini with cherry tomatoes, pancetta & basil

A basket of tiny tomatoes, red and gold alike, sat on the counter.  A package of bucatini was stashed in the pantry.  A few basil leaves threatened to wilt in the fridge.  And two thick rounds of pancetta were a mere trip to the corner market away—nothing a sweet call to Kevin, a quick bat of my eye lashes, and a promise of pasta! with pancetta! and plenty of parm! couldn’t solve.

bucatini with cherry tomatoes, pancetta & basil

While Kevin was procuring the pork, I set a pot of water on to boil, and plucked the stems from the tomatoes.  I reduced a few cloves of garlic into paper-thin slices, minced up the basil, and readied a couple healthy pinches of chili flakes.  The recipe was taking shape in my mind’s eye, just as the water started to boil.  It occurred to me that some acid might be nice, against that richness of the pancetta, so I halved a lemon, too.  I poured myself a glass of white wine, and kept the bottle close by, thinking it would add some depth to the sauce.

bucatini with cherry tomatoes, pancetta & basil

Kevin returned just as I slid the pasta into the bubbling water.  In a skillet, I crisped up the pancetta (diced), with a sheen of olive oil to help things along.  Then I added the garlic and chili flakes, and, in a matter of seconds, the dish took on the exact fragrance I’d imagined.  In went the tomatoes, with a sizzle.  As the tomatoes cooked, some slumped and some split, sending their summer-sweet juices into the pan.  A squeeze of lemon and a glug of white wine later, I left the sauce to simmer until the pasta was al dente.

bucatini with cherry tomatoes, pancetta & basil

I tossed the whole thing together, slid it onto a plate, and scattered parmesan and basil on top.  Dinner was served, and a recipe was born.

Bucatini with Cherry Tomatoes, Pancetta & Basil
Serves 2-3
1/2 pound bucatini (or other dried strand pasta)
2 thick slices of pancetta
olive oil
2 cups cherry tomatoes (left whole if small; halved or quartered if large)
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
red pepper flakes, to taste
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup white wine
1 tablespoon basil, minced, for serving
parmigiano reggiano, for serving
Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Salt the water generously and add the pasta.  Cook until al dente, drain and reserve a 1/4 cup of the pasta water.
Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the pancetta, as well as a glug of oil, if the pancetta is sticking to the pan.  Cook until the pancetta is crisp, and add the garlic and pepper flakes (I used a couple big pinches).  Stir and cook for 30 seconds or so, until the garlic is fragrant and lightly golden.  Add the tomatoes, and cook until the tomatoes have softened and begun to burst.  Add the lemon juice and wine, lower the heat and simmer until the pasta is drained.  Salt to taste, if necessary (my pancetta was nice and salty, so I didn’t need it).
Add the drained pasta to the tomato mixture and toss to coat the pasta.  If the sauce is on the dry side, add some of the reserved pasta water, a tablespoon at a time, until you reach your desired consistency.  Transfer the pasta to a large platter or bowl, top with basil and cheese, and serve.

8 comments so far. »
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  1. Rosa says on August 31 2011 at 10:32 pm:

    I love such dishes. Simple, but refined and so scrumptious! Lovely colors too.

    I also improvise a lot while cooking.



  2. Tine says on September 01 2011 at 1:33 am:

    Oh, I love this! Less ingrediënts, but such a good dish!

  3. Mel says on September 01 2011 at 9:48 pm:

    This post reads like Summer (what we in New Zealand are hanging out for!)… recipe sounds wonderful and effortlessly beautiful. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Mary O'Brien says on September 02 2011 at 12:00 am:

    Looks scrumptious! I am definitely going to try it before tomatoes have no taste and summer is gone.

  5. Nicole @ the dirty oven says on September 03 2011 at 6:16 pm:

    Just lovely! Enjoy what you can of the summer. Those tomato pictures and just so pretty…like you!

  6. Neil Butterfield says on September 05 2011 at 1:51 am:

    Necessity is is the is the is the mother of invention and it is amazing what people can come up with when forced to make it happen with what they have got.

  7. Barbara says on September 05 2011 at 1:55 pm:

    How easy is that??! I love it.

  8. Emily says on September 09 2011 at 12:08 pm:

    Making this tonight! Can’t wait…

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